Training Children is Like Training Vines

Emery and I do most of the gardening.  Everyone pitches in when it comes to weeding and harvesting, but the rest of it is done by the two of us.  I’m working on training Jade to love the garden, but I haven’t had a lot of time to spend with her working with our hands in the dirt.  That’s one of my big goals for the spring – to instill my love of gardening in Jade.  She loves the outdoors (and doesn’t mind getting dirty) and I think it will be something she really enjoys.


Yesterday, Emery and I were training some loganberry and blackberry vines onto the cattle panel trellises in our garden.  (Check out this blog post if you want to learn how to build a cattle panel trellis).


Training the vines to the trellis involves weaving them in and out of the little squares.

Training Blackberries and Children


I must be in an introspective mood lately, because just like the incident with the little oak tree, I started to think of all the ways that what we were doing reminded me of parenting and training my children.

1. Training provides more opportunities for growth.  When you train a vine up the trellis, instead of leaving it lying on the ground, you give it more chances to grow.  Likewise with our children, if we train them to go in the right direction, it can expose them to new opportunities that they wouldn’t have found on their own.


2. Training provides more exposure to sunlight.  When you move the vines up the trellis, it allows the sunlight to reach more of the leaves.  If they all lie in a heap on the ground, many of the leaves end up in darkness, covered by one another.  When we train our children, we should be removing some of the (negative) choices in their lives and allow them exposure to many of the sunny possibilities.

3. Training exposes the weeds.  When we picked the vines up off the ground and started training them up the trellis, we discovered many weeds that were hidden.  When you work on training your children in different areas, it exposes some of the heart issues that they are struggling with.  By exposing them, you can help to weed them out of your child’s life.


4. Training sometimes results in a few lost leaves.  When you’re weaving the vines in and out of the trellis, sometimes, even if you’re careful, the vine loses a few leaves.  Training your children isn’t always all smiles.  Sometimes there are bruised feelings and hurts involved.  But those minor pains can often produce improvements that you otherwise wouldn’t have seen.

5. Training sometimes requires removing vines from the wrong support.  In the summer, we grow a lot of cucumbers on our trellises.  The cucumbers are really bad about grabbing onto some of the nearby plants (such as tomatoes or peppers) instead of grabbing onto the trellis that we provide.   If I don’t remove them from those plants and train them back to the trellis, it is bad for the tomatoes and bad for the cucumbers.  Likewise, our children if not properly trained, may find the wrong people or activities to cling to.  It is my responsibility to make sure that my children are trained to know the difference between a good and a bad support.

6. Training shows which plants are stiffer and which plants bend more easily.  When training blackberries, there is huge difference between some of the branches.  Some are really thick and rigid and some are softer and more pliable.  I have found that while raising my eight children, the same applies.  Some children are super easy to train and some are a lot more resistant and strong-willed.  It takes a lot more effort (and a gentle hand) with the strong-willed ones, but the results are worth it.

7. Training is best done early, before they go off in the wrong direction.  Emery and I got kind of lazy with these blackberry plants.  We should have been working with them all summer.  We would have lost a lot fewer leaves and the process would have been easier before they dug themselves in and planted new roots.  Training children is always easier if you start when they’re young.  It’s still possible when they’re older, but you’ve got a lot more work to bring them back from the wrong directions they’ve gone.


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  • Diane F

    I was searching for information on growing boysenberries up a hog panel trellis that I have. My concern was if I weave them in now (autumn), I worried that the cold winter wind might damage them. Can you tell me how yours fared being grown this way? Thank you. (I’m in Eastern Washington, Zone 5b)