Raising Boys On a Farm

boys playing in waterAs the mother of three active boys, I am soooooo grateful to have 160 acres to let them run and endless constructive activities to keep them occupied. Boys seem to need to run or release their energy in a physical way. Trying to stop them from doing that will only lead to frustration by everyone.

I am not a perfect parent, but I have learned a few things about raising boys [on a farm]:

1. If I have to discipline them, it is best not to leave them with guilt or shame. Give them an opportunity to “make up”. If one gets in trouble for being mean to a brother, I try to make sure they are asked to do something nice later. Perhaps it is to read a story or to reach something on a high shelf that little brother cannot get. It does not matter if it is large or small, they should be given a chance to make up AND receive a compliment from their parent(s) about their kindness.

2. Chores are a good thing. My boys seem to crave responsibility and the recognition that comes with being responsible. Providing chores that are age appropriate, holding them accountable, and providing positive feedback when they rise to the occasion are important for farm boys. If they do not rise to the occasion, consequences are also important. Plants that are not watered die. There is no way to sugar coat that or allow a child to minimize that responsibility.

3. Being connected to food is a life long skill. People often told me that children will not eat “this” or “that”. Poppycock! My children do not like every food that is presented to them, but they are willing to try it at least once. They eat a surprising range of vegetables, ethnic foods, and are willing to experiment with their own food ingredients. Raising animals for meat, keeping chickens, planting a garden, and picking wild berries all have a way of making food an interesting adventure. Boys love adventures.

This is only a small sampling of my “wisdom”. I would be really interested in hearing other advice for farm parents. What are your parenting tips?


About jheem

I grew up on a diversified dairy farm in southeast South Dakota where I learned how to throw a hay bale, pull a calf, deal with death, and "name" the cows. I was in 4H and FFA, and was privileged to serve as a state FFA officer. In college, I studied animal science, focusing on beef cows, mostly because I figured they were less work than dairy cows....I ended up with a Masters Degree in ruminant nutrition and went to work for the University of Nebraska, first as a research tech coordinating data collection for a swine unit and beef feedlot on a research farm and then as an extension educator. In my current job, I focus on environmental issues related to animal agriculture (which is a nice way of saying I talk about manure alot). My husband and I live and work on a seedstock cattle operation in northeast Nebraska. You can learn more about our cattle operation by visiting my husband's blog at http://aldersonangus.wordpress.com.
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3 Responses to Raising Boys On a Farm

  1. Jeffrey says:

    I enjoy your blog. Great photos and writing.
    You nailed it on shame based parenting. It makes children fearful, weak and vengeful. Your other points on chores and being connected to where your food comes from are spot on as well.
    Take care.

  2. Pingback: What Were They Thinking? A Mom Guesses What’s In the Minds of Her Sons | Fence Post Diaries

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