On Raising Children: A Poem I Love


I wouldn’t coax the plant if I were you. 

Such watchful nurturing may do it harm.

Let the soil rest from so much digging

And wait until it’s dry before you water it. 

The leaf’s inclined to find its own direction;

Give it a chance to seek the sunlight for itself. 

Much growth is stunted by too careful prodding,

Too eager tenderness.


The things we love we have to learn to leave alone.


-“Woman with Flower” by Naomi Long Madgett



This poem is a metaphor on raising children, and it really touches me.

The thing that happened to me when Trevor was born was that I learned the real meaning of the word “anxiety.” Holding baby Tru in my arms, I had before me something more helpless and precious and fragile and miraculous than I had ever known.

And yet, here Trevor and I lived in this world where I witnessed cruelty and unfairness and tragedy all around me. Mostly, I’ve only ever wanted to surround him in a bubble of protection. All the time I want to shout, “No! Don’t even try that … You can never be too careful … Don’t risk anything … Let me do it for you … Better yet, let me keep you locked up safely inside our home…”

But trying to shield him from every possible mishap or accident is not the thing to help him gain confidence and grow strong and sure of himself in this world. We have to fall before we can rise back up.

Children are naturally connected to their own inner voice and guidance. It’s their greatest gift and superpower. Parents can easily silence that inner voice with too many rules, too much structure, too much rigid interference.

“The things we love we have to learn to leave alone.”  These are very wise words that may take me the rest of my life to master…


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  1. Susan
    June 23, 2020 / 8:36 am

    I enjoyed your choice of poems and your honesty. Thank you

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      June 25, 2020 / 9:37 am

      I love these poems, I’m glad you enjoyed them. Thank you for your note.💕

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