Skip To Main Content

Planting Hope

Planting Hope
Sherry Jennings

 I planted my sweet peas two weeks ago — a sunny day just before the cool April rains set in again, those seeds roundish, hard rolling off my fingers into the dark, moist soil. Sweet peas love the cool, moist earth before the days grow hot. If the earth dries out, the seeds will not be happy. In fact, I usually soak them overnight so they will germinate in 10–14 days but this year I forgot. When I looked this morning — day 14 — no sign of a sprout but I am not worried yet.

I remember that morning when I was loosening the cool soil with my fingers to make a home for the seeds, seeds that had come from blossoms and hopefully to blossoms would return. I was not only planting the seeds with their tough outer coat. I was planting thin, fragile stems with their delightful, curly, whimsical tendrils reaching out to find an anchor. I was planting pastel silk and the sweet fragrance of the bouquets my mother would bring inside from her garden. I was planting delicate softness, sweet smells, beauty, and the warmth of summer days. I was planting hard kernels of hope.

In these turbulent times this is what we as parents and teachers need to plant for our children: kernels of hope.  How can we do this? By having hope ourselves. Children are sensitive beings and resonate to the feelings and thoughts of the adults around them. They drink in what is present in the inner life of their parents — for better or worse. Whether it is the expletive that comes after the hammer hits the thumb, the content of a phone call relaying sad news, or the joyful announcement of a newly-born cousin, very young children take these emotions into their beings yet are too young to understand and process them.

As grown-ups we may be overwhelmed and distraught when we read the news or contemplate the many issues facing humanity today — climate change, war, immigration, world hunger. However, it is important to set these issues aside when we are with our young children and offer thoughts and feelings that are filled with hope and positivity. They do not yet need explanations of what is going on in the outer world or to be aware of our fears and concerns. We need to meet the children with optimism and hope. There will be plenty of time later for them to come face to face with the darker sides of what may be happening in the world.

The same gesture holds true for Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. We want the young child who is just beginning to get to know the world to experience that the world is a wonderful place, a place filled with Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. If the young child is surrounded with love and positivity, they will experience that the world into which they have been born is good.

What does this look like?

  • All the warmth, love, affection, tenderness you surround them with tells them the world is a good place.
  • The warm clothing, nourishing food, beauty and order in their homes tell them the world is a good place.
  • Connections with neighbors, cousins, grandparents, etc. tell them the world is good.
  • Being outside and drinking in the cheery good morning of the cardinal, the fragrance of the lilacs, the darting dance of dragonflies, the parade of tiny ants tell them the world is good.
  • Don’t forget all the treasures waiting to be collected—acorns, pine cones, sea shells, and the amazing selection of rocks. All of these tell the children that the world is a wonderful, magical, good place to be.
  • Leave the world news and political discussions until after they are in bed. Even if they are not yet able to understand they are still affected by the mood and conversations of the adults around them.
  • If possible, provide them with the opportunity to grow some annual flowers. To plant seeds, watch them sprout and turn into flowers, watch the flowers grow and wither, and then discover one day that there are seeds again is an outer picture of the quality of Hope. This picture is something the young child can internalize.

The Young Child

As the parent of a young child, you no doubt look for a little inspiration from time to time.

Our experienced Parent & Child teachers offer their insights, reflections, and suggestions in "The Young Child."

Explore More in This Series

parent and child holding hands

Looking for More?

Would you like to receive "The Young Child," along with information about upcoming events for families with young children in your in box?

Click the bell icon below to join our Parent & Child email list and receive periodic news — typically, once a month — tailored to inspire and support parents of young children. You will also receive registration information for upcoming sessions as soon as it is available.