I had to take a drive the other day which took me through many small towns, suburbs and then into the city.  It was a perfect spring day!  Temps were about 70's degrees and the sun was shining.  I was so happy to see everyone's flower beds blooming and tall grass had been cut.  It was the exact definition of spring.  Except, I was struck by the fact that it was a Sunday afternoon and there were no children outside.  

Where have all of the children gone?  When I was a child it would have been near impossible to keep me indoors on a day like that.  I spent those afternoons playing ball, climbing trees, and catching frogs.  On a homestead, children are expected to collect eggs, feed animals, mow grass and weed the garden.  Time off is spent playing in the woods or skipping stones.  I began to think about how this growing number of people who want to leave the city for the country will have a shock to deal with when it comes to their children.  I wonder if those children will know what to do with themselves.  Will they embrace the farm life since, after all, it fits so well with things kids seem to be interested in, or has society gone so far in the other direction for so long that they will resent being away from their video games and cell phones?  

Then my mind wandered to the bigger picture.  The agrarian life taught young people to work hard, solve problems, and be independent.  These generations used these skills to become inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs.  They created the technology and started the businesses that make the world run today and in the process moved away from an agrarian lifestyle.  A child's life today reflects what might be needed to compete in this world.  They are well adapted to being inside in an office all day.  They have learned how to communicate in various ways such as email, cell phones, texting, etc.  They understand the latest technology and can hook up new video game consoles, debug computers, and create videos online.  Can a country kid compete with that?  

I thought about our own homestead and saw all of the opportunities the children have, but couldn't reconcile the question.  Many of the challenges we face as adults living in a rural county are also faced by our children.  They have a very small library with outdated books in town.  They do not have access to high speed Internet.  There are many areas of the town where cell phones don't work and so some homes don't even have them.  The schools, while sufficient, don't offer opportunities like a city school and it's a constant struggle to increase the number of college acceptances.  They will never learn how to ride public transportation and rarely encounter a traffic light.  Our values as homesteaders means we live a simple life and get most of our entertainment from nature.  The kids may know how to fish and camp, but they don't understand theater or amusement parks and aren't familiar with the newest video games or movies.  While this all fits in with the other children in town, what does it mean for their future?  

My thoughts are that children who grow up on a homestead have experiences and skills that will help them throughout their life.  They are healthier and understand the importance that diet and exercise have on their bodies.  They are able to balance work and play and understand that chores come first and you are able to make your own schedule, set your own pace, and decide your own priorities so if you want to get to playing, you'd better get your work done straight away.  They are problem solvers and spend much of their time observing cause and effect.  They have values grounded in real life and nature and respect the land and animals around them.  They use their minds to build things, create games, and imagine rather than waiting to be entertained.  They know how to save and budget and prepare for a rainy day or emergency.  And they have skills to take care of themselves like hunting, fishing, growing food and cooking.  I guess in the end, these are things that are valuable no matter where adulthood leads them.  Adapting to dormitory life in college or learning how to act in a business meeting with suit and tie are just going to be more things they have to learn if they choose to take that path.  I have had a book on my "to read" list for some time now called,"Last Child In the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit d....  Maybe this will help me to reconcile my questions, but I wonder what other Farm Dreamer's experiences are.  

How have your children adapted from city life to country life?  What are their concerns and what do you see in store for their future?  

Views: 276

Tags: children, homesteading, values

Comment by Ellen Samek on April 24, 2012 at 11:38pm

An interesting post.  I will approach my response from two different angles. 

1) I have 6 children still at home that have made the move with us from the city to the country.  We are also a homeschooling family.  I can tell you that my children have LOVED being in the out of doors and even in spite of the work of weeding the garden, feeding the goats, or mowing the yard, they have thoroughly enjoyed not always cooped up in the house.  We homeschool as well and they have already had times to work on their schoolwork and they have chosen to work outside in the yard, in the tree or sitting on the fence. 

How will it be 3, 6, or 10 years from now?  I am sure they will have times that they are unhappy with the "confines" of the country and the psuedo-isolation that living in rural areas provides.  But overall, I think it will be a beneficial thing for each of them.

We also participate in other activities that connect them with other families from all different walks of life.  And we do a lot of discussing the different situations/friendships they have to help them navigate the emotions and issues. 

2) My other perspective is one who grew up in the country myself.  I grew up in a small rural town in North Florida and although not totally "homesteading" it was definitely out of town and beyond school itself, there was not much outside interaction.  I grew up helping my dad with whatever needed doing (and on a farm with cows, horses, hay fields, fences, etc... that was a never ending list).  When I married I ended up in Dallas/Fort Worth and at different times I've been involved in things that were more "high falutin' " than now I grew up.  However, as with anything else in growing up, if I needed to learn something new, I asked questions, got some help, had some friends who occassionally had to tell me that I wasn't quite on target, but I learned.    Although not overly comfortable, I can do a passible job of integrating with corporate events, etc...  I learned how to present materials in front of a group of professionals, how to perform (singing/keyboard) in front of a church service or whatever else I needed to do. 

As you mentioned, some of those skills learned homesteading - the hard work, the need to adjust as circumstances change, etc... those are all skills that are applied to whatever new task is needed to learn. 

One of our goals in our homeschooling has been to equip our children to be able to learn.  Because if they know HOW to learn, then no matter the circumstances, they CAN learn how to do whatever they need to learn.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons with any lifestyle choice.  And I'll be willing to bet that my kids will function better in a dorm situation than many city, small family kids would...why?  because they know how to do laundry, how to cook real meals, how to deal with changes and upheavals and the unexpected and they are already having to deal with roommates and the adjustments that come with that.   As far as suit & ties go - again, it is a learned skill.  Some of which they will learn in their dealings throughout life whatever direction their lives and careers take them. 

Loved your post, because it makes me think and try to make sure that we keep some of these goals in mind as we go through our daily chores! 

 

Ellen Samek

www.embracingthedream.com


 

Comment by Ellen Samek on April 25, 2012 at 2:28am

and I apologize for the typos.  I hate it when I do that, but my 2 year old has been sick today and SUPER CLINGY!!!!  so much of my day has been spent typing one handed and since 2 others of those 6 were also sick, my day was FULL of interruptions and accomplishing little!! 

 

Comment by Suzanne Clark on April 26, 2012 at 11:40am

We also are a homeschooling family of 5 kids. We recently (about 4 months ago) moved from the city to the country. Fortunately, we have a few acres and are able to have goats, chickens, and a large garden while still able to have access to high speed internet and satellite tv.

What I've found is we're able to spend more time together as a family, even after the chores are done.  I feel like we're providing our children with good values and skills for their future. Sure, they will have new skills to learn depending on which path they choose in life. My husband and I have had to learn new skills from what we grew up in to start our homestead. 

I think it comes down to what works best for your family. However, I do think it's important for future generations to not be completely dependent on everything being provided for them. There is a lot of value in learning to be more self-reliant and how to provide your own food. 

Comment by Daisy on April 26, 2012 at 5:16pm

Ellen and Suzanne - I think anyone with the commitment and discipline to home school 5 or 6 children will make sure that they are well rounded for the future!  You two are amazing!  In my experience, home  schooled children are very good at learning on their own and being resourceful.  I bet that if they decide to take another path, other than rural life, when they are older then they will be able to meet the challenges and new learning experiences head on.  

Comment by Ellen Samek on April 27, 2012 at 2:56pm

Daisy, Thanks...and I sure hope they are able to....that's our goal: for them to be able to learn how to do and accomplish whatever they set their mind to!  :)

 

Comment by Ellen Samek on April 27, 2012 at 3:00pm

P.S. Today, my 12 year learned how to use the lawn mower.  Up until now, the 19 year old and the 14 year old have taken care of the "city yard" and only the 14 year old and I have mowed the yard here.  Today K wanted to mow, the 14 year old is recovering from being sick and so why not...it is time (actually past time, but who's counting).  She was very excited to be trusted with that responsibility!!!   (and I was very glad not to have to mow it all myself!)

 

Ellen Samek

www.embracingthedream.com

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