Tag Archives: farm chores for kids

Raising Rural Children

One of your motivations for moving to the country may be to raise your children in a way that seems more natural and authentic. Wouldn’t it be great to scoot your kids out the kitchen door, saying “Don’t come back ‘til dinner!” They may grow up with a better understanding of the circle of life than their urban counterparts. They may be more self-reliant and responsible.

Keep in mind that, while your own rural experience is being acquired in addition to your years as an urbanite, your children will draw solely from a rural frame of reference. Unless you take them into a city on a regular basis, they will not know how to access public transportation. They may have never seen a person of color. They may not know how to deal with panhandlers and roving mentally ill. Not to mention driving and parking—the chaos! The signs and restrictions! How does this parking meter work? Your kids will see city life on TV and in movies, but it will be a fascinating abstraction, not instruction.

While visiting Burns, Oregon, in June I stopped by Big R, a farming and ranching supply store chain. They have everything! Horse tack, rat traps, ammunition, cowgirl fashion. I bought a pair of Ariat lace-up boots while I was there in 2009 and still wear them on a regular basis. On the way to see the new boot styles, I passed through the toy section. The toys include kid versions of what the grown-ups use—in this case not miniature condominiums and SUVs, but replica rodeo equipment and rifles. Lifelike for the boys and pink for the girls.

Yes, this is a pink cattle truck!

Children on working farms and ranches get up at 5:30 in the morning to do chores. Before breakfast, before school. Yours may not, but keep in mind that that’s the norm. This might disrupt the usual sleepover schedule.

Your children will grow up different from you. There are a couple of ways this can pan out. They may take up hunting, even though you never suggested it. They may join a church you would never step foot in. They may be terrified of the pace and crush of the city and refuse to visit.

Conversely, they may adore the city (or their romantic idea about it), viewing their hometown as anything but the beautiful refuge that you painstakingly chose and sacrificed to give to them. Many teenagers “hate” their home regardless of where it is—suburbia, urban ghetto, 5,000-square-foot mansion—that’s just a normal process of differentiating oneself from one’s parents. Your children may feel imprisoned in their rural oasis, waiting to burst forth from their “backwards” country cage.

Most rural kids are encouraged by their parents to attend college, knowing it will give them a chance to sample a world outside their hometown. While some will stay in the city, many return after a few years to start their own families. Good parents try to give their children the best life possible. Try not to have too many preconceived notions about what that means.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,