Tomato Stake Parenting

Yesterday was a lousy day. Not the whole day, just one little slice of it (or maybe two or three slices). As a result of some mother/child interactions that were NOT pleasant, Tim and I have decided to begin a major Tomato Staking project with Daniel.

Daniel My Boy!

Until we see some serious, character changes that reflect a true heart transformation, Daniel is going to be “tomato staked” to one of his parents. He will be in the same room with one of us, he will work on school, chores, and other projects with supervision. Any play time (outside or otherwise) will be done only in an observed, supervised manner.

Tim and I discussed this at length last night and are resolved to be firm and committed to this course of action. This morning we brought Daniel upstairs and shared with him this new Change of Life and how it will affect him.

Today ended up looking something like this:

Daniel worked on school downstairs near me in the morning.
I accompanied him to his PE class at the YMCA.
In the afternoon he did school upstairs in the bedroom while Tim worked.
I was hit with a migraine (haven’t had one in over two years) and went straight to bed.
Tim moved his laptop downstairs and supervised Daniel’s work and the rest of the children while I slept.
After a LONG nap, I helped Daniel (amidst frustration and tears) with his geography assignment then handed him off to Tim while I did school reading with David and Sarah.
Rachel and Joshua went to a church picnic/party – Daniel did not have permission to attend.
Daniel finished his difficult assignment (hooray) and played an hour computer game with Tim.
Time for bed.

Tomorrow we begin all over again.

…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5

have a slurpee

I share this not to embarrass Daniel or single him out, apart from the rest of the family, but because I have great hope for what the Lord wants to do in Daniel’s life.

Because I believe parenting is worth doing well.
Because I think excellent parenting takes time and energy and sacrifice.
Because I believe we hurt our children when we let sin, disrespect and bad attitudes encamp in their hearts.
Because I think it is possible to hold our children to the high standard of godliness and maturity.
Because I hope others will be encouraged by our struggles and our victories.
Because I want Daniel to have this as a testimony of his parents’ love for him and the amazing work of God in his life.
Because I have complete and absolute faith in the veracity of the Word of God who promises He will complete the work He begins in His children.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

Kathy – Tomato Staking Mama

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15 thoughts on “Tomato Stake Parenting”

  1. I’ve heard of this approach, and am eager to see its fruit in your lives. It’s a costly one. Keep us posted.

  2. Blessings to you as you love your son the way the Lord loves us. Godly discipline is life changing. I’ll be praying for you and your Daniel. I will be going back and reading over your previous “stake” post. I suspect that one of my girls is in great need of this kind of “closeness” right now. Thank you for your example and encouragement.

  3. Daniel is indeed blessed to have parents who care so deeply about his character and love him enough to spend the time and effort that tomato staking requires.
    Both you and he will will reap great benefits, and if I may do some fortune telling, look back on this time of ‘togetherness’ with fondness and appreciation.
    Love all you Edgrens!

  4. Yea, team. God will honor your work!!

    I continue to be proud of you and Tim. I love you. AK

  5. One of the great things about this approach is that it gives us an extra opportunity to be around one of our children. Daniel is good company, and I enjoy his sense of humor and his quick wit (not to mention his tendency toward practical jokes).

    We’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about the idea of a ‘moral warehouse’ (sort of like Costco) where we keep our values. When I’m presented with a situation that might require a moral response, I send my little fork-lift robot up and down the aisles to bring back any values that might apply. For example, if I’m sitting on a full train and a woman or an older man gets on, my robot might come back with a box labeled ‘respect for age’ or ‘chivalry’ that might prompt me to give up my seat for that person.

    If I’ve never been taught about ‘respect for age’ or ‘chivalry’, then my robot will come back empty-handed, and I’ll sit there in my seat unknowing that a moral opportunity passed me by.

    One of the things we’ve noticed is that we have not taught some of these values to our children, and so their moral warehouses are not as full as they ought to be. Tomato-staking allows us to take extra time to make sure those value shelves are well-stocked.

    Mainly, I like the idea of tomato-staking because we have so many tomato plants, and many of them are already staked. :)

    I love you, Daniel. I’m glad to be your Dad, and I’m glad to spend more time with you. Thanks for playing Civilization with me last night.


  6. Daniel is so blessed to have parents who will do this hard heart work with him! I am guessing one of mine might benefit from this approach sometime soon.

    I’d love at peek at your value shelves. I’m sure I’ve missed a few.

  7. i love the analogy of tomato staking. what a gift you are giving your son. a plant that is staked is so much stronger when the stake is removed, like a tree.

    you guys are an inspiration in your parenting skills and endeavors. thanks for being transparant and letting us see the victories and hardships. i am encouraged in the Lord by your lives.

  8. Kathy and Tim -

    My husband and I are just so blessed in watching the beautiful and compassionate strength with which the two of you choose to work as a parenting team. This is how my husband and I were raised and just what we strive to do with our children too — parent them with discipline that always shows them the extent of our love so that they will be provided with the life skills they need to be exceptional to the fullest level of their potential. You and your family are inspirational — keep up the most excellent work even though the path is steep at times. :)

  9. Thank you so much, everyone, for your encouraging words. I hesitated to post this blog out of a desire to protect Daniel and his “reputation,” but I learn so much from other moms. I hoped maybe this journey with Daniel might encourage and inspire other families in their parenting.

    Those who know Daniel are aware of his cheerful, giving spirit and his giftedness in working with little children. They might think we are nitpicking or pushing too hard. Compared to some of his peers, he shines like a bright star.

    However, as Tim shared, we are seeing some big gaps in his moral training. There seems to be a disconnect between what he knows (or should know as a young man who has been raised with Biblical principles) and his actions.

    I hope to continue sharing our successes (and failures).

    Thank you again for encouraging our family!

  10. Kathy, it sounds like a lot of extra “work” but in the long run, I know that it will be worth all the tears and frustration! You are doing the right thing and we all know that being under mom’s constant supervision is never fun but the sooner we learn what we are “supposed to” the sooner, we are granted a little bit of freedom which will eventually lead to full freedom!

    Go Daniel, we have faith in you!! You will do well as you have a wonderful set of parents who love you and want you to be the best that God has created you to be!

  11. hey kathy,
    i did b-day meme at my blog and tagged you! to play along. if you do these things, i guess i shouldn’t assume everyone plays along, come over to my blog and see what you have to do.

    blessings, gail

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