By Kenzi Knapp
Would your little girl on the prairie rather be listening to music than milking the cows? Is it possible for a farmer boy to dislike farming? While most children enjoy the homesteading experience, some do not. Like adults, children’s perspectives can range from those who begin the journey with fervor but have lost their first love to those who never had much interest in the first place and the little they once had has dwindled.
Reasons Why Children May Dislike Homesteading
The key to any problem is to first identify it. Why doesn’t your child like homesteading? When seeking answers, it is helpful to realize there are various roots that may be feeding the problem: heart, personality, and experience.
When our hearts aren’t right it shows up in our attitudes. Symptoms of this type of “heart disease” may include slothfulness, pride, a rebellious spirit, or just plain bad attitude. A telltale sign is if you get resistance in many areas, not just homesteading. Whining about schoolwork and cleaning their bedroom—along with feeding the chickens or milking the goats—is simply a heart problem. In this case, employ the forms of discipline you use to correct your children’s attitudes and pray for wisdom in leading your child back to a cheerful heart. Shepherding a Child’s Heart is a great resource for this.
If your child possesses a good attitude about life in general but doesn’t have much interest toward the farm, it could be the root is personality related. Some people just aren’t inclined to the homesteading way of life. Some children hate to get dirty and prefer inside work. Some are social butterflies who miss having friends nearby now that they live way out in the boondocks.
Many adults are thankful they grew up on a farm but their soul doesn’t see the charm for themselves. A child’s natural personality may not be inclined to the homesteading lifestyle you love.
When leading a child whose personality conflicts with homesteading, a balanced approach is best. Yes, they do need to learn that some work has to be done whether they have a passion for it or not—we all need such character training. But also remember the Lord created each child as an individual; you may be fighting a losing battle if you insist they enjoy the homestead as much as you do.
With this in mind consider adapting some of their chores to work that fits their strengths but still benefits the homestead. If she loves the written word, let her start a family newsletter for customers by providing stories from the farm, new research about farm-raised products, or fun recipes. Raising a budding entrepreneur? Put him to work looking up regulations and helping the farming enterprise remain within the law. Or help him start his own business like a Christmas tree farm or a traveling petting zoo.
Make it a point to invite friends out who can learn about homesteading from your social child. Your son or daughter might see the charm a little more brightly when viewed through the eyes of another.
Passion is not king but if you can use it to your advantage, why not?
Another reason some children don’t like homesteading is they associate it with negative experiences. Maybe a child has been frightened by an angry goose or stepped on by a hefty cow. Let’s face it: farming can be stressful. Goats get out. Pests consume gardens overnight. And the natural onion flavor tainting the milk may have gone down well for the cow but it tastes nasty with your cookies.
Disorganization and lack of structure can make relationships tense and chaos an unhealthy norm. This kind of daily stress burns out children fast. If a child believes the demands and drama of farming cause disharmony in the family, he may come to resent what he perceives as the source of disorder. If this is so, it’s time for serious priority evaluation. Focus on relationships, scale back to what your family can realistically accomplish and don’t take on more until what you do have runs as fluidly as a stream over river rock.
Most of us long to give our children a lifestyle that is slow and simple; a nest where relationships flourish, work ethic is nurtured, and peace is as plentiful as butterflies in a flower garden. Homesteading may or may not be that peaceful. Not every child may be created to follow the homesteading trail—that’s not what makes your parenting successful.
But with some intentional effort you can still make homesteading a path that will develop character that will last them a lifetime—and they’ll be thankful for the path they traveled.
Kenzi Knapp’s desire is that her pen points others to God’s offer of reconciliation through the blood of Jesus Christ. A homeschool graduate currently enrolled in God’s Great Course of Faith, Kenzi lives with her family on an Ozark homestead. She enjoys writing, biking, playing the piano, perusing old books, and encouraging young women to build mission-centered cottage industries at her blog, Honey Rock Hills.