The modern world is full of change…lots of it…which often leads to fear and suffering too. It sometimes seems that “change” is accelerating every week. It’s a challenge for everyone but children are the ones who have to face the most first-time changes in their young lives—the first day of school, the birth of a baby brother or sister, the death of a grandparent, the death of a beloved pet, moving to a new neighborhood, going to the doctor or the dentist, etc. These changes—many of which are viewed as simple, ordinary events by adults—can be extraordinarily challenging and even traumatic for children. They each represent a “loss” of some kind—but also, potentially, a new beginning.
What’s the best way to help the children, and perhaps even help ourselves in the process? In order to translate this guidance in as simple a way as possible, we should think of a tiny seed…yes, a seed, just like the ones you would plant in the spring. Handled correctly, seeds can grow into tasty fruit, lovely flowers, tall strong trees and more. Handled incorrectly, they can be left to fade into the very soil they are planted in and quietly fade away.
“The Seed Who Was Afraid to be Planted” can be your guide to helping children safely and effectively, merge into the crowded and scary world they are facing. Below, are tips that I believe are the most effective.
Reassure Young Children
Rather than fear the changes that take place in life, they should embrace them with courage and trust and look at them for what they truly are—opportunities for growth.
Listen closely to how they react and respond. It’s easy to talk about the strength that can be felt at the end of the well-handled life change, but talking about it is not the same of experiencing it and having that genuine feeling of survival, safety and learned wisdom through experience.
Tackle Adversity Together
It may be parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or even friends that have to help children overcome adversity in their lives so read the story together. Let children describe what she or he sees in the many drawings. Like the seed, we all feel forsaken and afraid when we have to go through suffering. Like the seed, we all like our little “drawer” of known experiences. After all, the world is a scary place. We don’t want to leave the safety of the status quo. Nor do we want those whom we love to leave our sides. Spending time together with the book will help draw your children out on issues they may have already experienced but didn’t know how to describe.
Things Will Get Better
Explain to your children that Christ told several famous parables involving seeds and grains that have to “fall to the ground and die” in order to “bear fruit.” From the perspective of the seed, this is how it happens, not when things go wrong, but when they go right, just as God said they would happen. As such, it will help prepare children to understand many deeper truths in life—including the love God has for us, the beauty of creation, the temporary nature of bodily death, and the joy of Heaven.
Give Children Room to Breathe
Once you are finished, put the book aside and pick it up several days later. Ask your child whether they have now seen any of what they learned from the book. This will reinforce the truths that are explained and illustrated within.
Hopefully this story will help ease those fears and remind adults and children that all change—even the greatest and most frightening—can be the beginning of a new and more joyful life. In this way, I hope that The Seed Who Was Afraid to be Planted will be a source of inspiration to everyone who is afraid, or suffering, or even grieving.
Anthony DeStefano is the best-selling author of four Christian, non-fiction books for adults: A Travel Guide to Heaven, Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, Angels All Around Us, and A Travel Guide to Life – Transforming Yourself from Head to Soul.